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On July 12, 1998, at 1003 central daylight time (cdt), a Stubbe-KitFox Classic, N494S, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed by collision forces and fire when it collided with a Vultee BT-15, N70035, while maneuvering during its initial climb out following takeoff from Runway 17 (2,550' X 100', dry sod) at the Traer Airport, Traer, Iowa. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot was seriously injured in the accident. The passenger was fatally injured. The pilot of N70035 reported minor injuries.
The pilot of N494S had previously attempted to fly, but aborted the takeoff. According to a witness, the pilot said that "he didn't like the way the engine was missing, so he had scrubbed the takeoff...Back at the hangar, [the pilot] removed the cowling from the engine area. I watched as he did this. Obvious problems with the engine were looked for and nothing was found."
"I came back a few moments later and observed that [the pilot] was starting the Kitfox engine. The runup was brief and from my position sounded smooth and normal. While I was absent, I learned that [the pilot] had pulled a spark plug(s), found some fouling of a plug, had cleaned it, re-installed it and the subsequent runup was A-OK."
While the maintenance was being performed on N494S, the other aircraft, N70035, had landed and was taxing to park. According to the pilot of N70035, "I landed on 17 using a 3 pt landing and taxied to the south end of the airport where I was about to turn into a parking place. I was being directed by [ground personnel] who were on the ground. The Kit Fox had departed on 17 and stalled overhead at 50-65 feet and struck my airplane. My prop slashed through the wreckage of the airplane and then slammed the Kit Fox to the ground where it exploded. At that time I did not know what had happened. I remember screams that 'it' was on fire. I was bent over still strapped in. I released my seat belt and exited the airplane. Upon hitting the ground I passed out again. The next thing I remember was the ambulance 3-4 blocks from the hospital."
According to a witness, "I was focused on watching the BT-13 (N70035) taxi in when a "Kitfox" airplane, (N494S) apparently on its take-off departure, appeared into my view. I would estimate the altitude of the Kitfox to be between 60 - 100 ft. agl. (feet above ground level) I did not see the Kitfox begin its take-off nor did I see where the Kitfox began its take-off run. When I saw the Kitfox, it had departed from the airport runway centerline and was over the taxiway. The Kitfox was slow and had a definite nose-up pitch. My very first thought when I saw the Kitfox was that the pilot was, for some reason, demonstrating slow flight. But almost as quickly, I recognized an impending stall was about to happen. The wings of the Kitfox were rocking back and forth and the nose was yawing. The Kitfox then stalled and collided with the BT-13 hitting the BT-13 in the front cockpit area and right wing before impacting the ground. I do not recall which wing of the Kitfox dropped first. The Kitfox came to rest inverted and burst into flames immediately after impact. I saw one individual crawl from the Kitfox wreckage. I did not see how the pilot of the BT-13 got out nor did I see who or how the BT's engine was shut down...The flames were not controlled until the Traer Fire Department arrived on scene."
DAMAGE TO AIRCRAFT
N494S came to rest on its back and was subsequently destroyed by the post accident explosion and fire.
N70035 received substantial damage to the forward part of the canopy and the right wing from the impact. The right wing of the aircraft had white paint on the outboard half of the wing. There was a piece of the leading edge damaged between the landing light and the right main landing gear strut. The forward half of the canopy was missing from the aircraft. There was impact damage ahead of the cockpit, and the area had white paint marks on it. The propeller was marked with white paint. See attached photographs of damage.
The pilot of N494S, born December 20, 1960, was the holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land privileges. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate that the pilot's last aviation medical examination was performed on October 13, 1997. The pilot possessed a current third class medical with the limitation, "must have available glasses for near vision" at the time of the accident.
The pilot's logbook indicated that he had flown 282 hours prior to the accident flight, 107 of which were in the accident airplane.
The pilot of N70035, born February 9, 1929, was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine and airplane multiengine land privileges, and an instrument airplane rating. The pilot also held an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate. FAA records indicate that the pilot's last aviation medical examination was performed on November 18, 1997. The pilot possessed a current second class medical with the limitation, "must wear corrective lenses" at the time of the accident.
The pilot's logbook indicated that he had flown 1,260 hours prior to the accident, of which 150 were in the accident airplane.
N494S, serial number C9404-0019, was a kit built, monoplane with fixed landing gear in a tail-wheel configuration. The aircraft can accommodate a pilot and a single passenger. The aircraft was certified as an experimental amateur built on January 21, 1998.
The engine was a Subaru, model A/B.
N70035, serial number 11453, was a low wing monoplane with fixed landing gear in a tail-wheel configuration. The aircraft can accommodate a pilot and a single passenger.
The engine was a Wright, model number 975E&F-2&3.
A weather observation facility, located at Waterloo, Iowa, 25 statute miles on a 007 degree magnetic bearing from the accident site reported the weather approximately 6 minutes before the accident as:
Observation Time: 0954 cdt Wind: 170 degrees at 7 knots, variable direction between 140 degrees and 210 degrees Visibility: 9 statute miles Sky Condition: Scattered clouds at 3,200 feet agl, broken clouds at 4,200 feet Temperature: 24 degrees centigrade Dew Point Temperature: 21 degrees centigrade Pressure: 30.02 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Both aircraft came to rest next to each other, with N494S on its back, on the Traer airport. N70035 was pushed back to aid in the emergency response to N494S.
N494S was destroyed by the impact with the other aircraft and the subsequent post accident fire. A post accident examination of the engine could not be completed due to fire damage.
N70035 received substantial damage to the right wing and canopy areas of the aircraft. The right wing of the aircraft had white paint on the outboard half of the wing. There was a piece of the leading edge damaged between the landing light and the right main landing gear strut. The forward half of the canopy was missing from the aircraft. There was impact damage ahead of the cockpit, and the area had white paint marks on it. The propeller was marked with white paint. See attached photographs of damage.
In a written statement, the pilot of N70035 stated, "I am alive today because I was wearing a USAF (United Stated Air Force) flight helmet. The wing of the Kit Fox hit the back of my helmet and broke through the exterior shell. I was also wearing a nomex flight suit and nomex gloves."
The wreckage of both aircraft was released to the Traer airport manager.